How many times do you go out to eat, in a month? What about the number of times you order from outside? It is bound to be pretty high given the growth numbers likes of Swiggy and Zomato are posting lately. This new year, Zomato’s CEO, Deepinder Goyal, went on record and tweeted that number of peak orders jumped to a staggering 4,254 orders per minute. That is a 60% jump in the GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) from the previous year. Believe it or not, it is pretty much established that eating out or ordering in, is being rooted deeper into our daily lives with every passing day.
This phenomena is not restricted to casual foodies like me. In fact, there are restaurants targeting every niche available out there. Gourmet? Fitness Freak? Street Food? Ghar ka khana (Homemade Food)? You name it and there will be a restaurant nearby catering to your requirement. So today, I plan to dive deeper into some mathematics of home cooked meals vis-à-vis the cost of indulgence. Lets begin:
What About Me?
See, knowing that there is a problem is the first step of solving it. So, I know that I need to cut down. If you keep a record of your monthly expenditure like me, scaling down on eating out is a no brainer. However, some of us may not even realize that there’s a problem. I used to order a lot (don’t like going out much) in my bachelorhood. As much as at least one meal on a daily basis. When I got married, ordering came down drastically. But that was compensated by going out every other day. So, I am working on by sticking to a schedule of fixed day outs or allocating a fixed sum to it.
I would also go ahead and pull off the pity card here. Pandemic has crushed the hopes of millions of small business owners. Especially in the hospitality segment. So I take the onus of reviving them. Plus, my nutritionist loves me for this. Why wouldn’t she? I keep on paying her every month with a hope of listening to her someday. You see, I have a lot of dependents at stake here.
Why Do People Prefer Eating Out Generally?
So, others may not have a noble rationale like mine behind ordering or eating out, but there are a few reasons I can think of:
This is probably the top reason people don’t prefer cooking at home. And I tried to break it down into fragments to understand which is the most boring part of cooking. Turns out chopping the vegetables is the saddest job of all. So in case you want to consider cooking yourself, you can think of hiring a help that can accompany you with this task. It won’t cost you more than Rs. 500 a month and you’d end up saving a lot. Unless you are a total sloth like me when it comes to cooking, things should work out.
2. Lack of Time:
Another barrier to enter the kitchen. Cooking may not fit into your work schedule. In cities like Mumbai, one has to leave for work as early as 7AM in some cases. Which is why, dabbawalas are a great hit in this culture. But that concept would still need someone to prepare meals for you. In case you are living all alone, there aren’t much options available. In such a case, I’d recommend that you can cook meals for a few days to come in a single go. Then probably just reheat and go on with your life. By the way, if you don’t have time for food, you may also want to reconsider your life choices and focus more on work life balance.
Another way to deal with such a situation would be to cook “Masala” or “Gravy” for a few days in bulk. Later, you can just add some vegetable to it and prepare a decent dish out of it.
What’s your favourite Hindi translation of the word “Foodie“? Mine is “Chatora“. It describes an individual so well. So if you are one of those whose hunger depends solely on the type of dishes prepared, welcome to the club. And mind it, Swiggy picked up this point for advertising really well. Remember the campaign that says “Thoda Ghar se, Thoda Swiggy se”. That is what it all boils down to. We tend to order a starter or may be a side dish along with what’s cooked at home.
4. Lack of Skill:
This may be specific to some bachelors (especially boys). If you don’t know how to cook, in all probability you are bound to end up ordering or going out a lot. You can alternatively hire a cook but ain’t nobody got time for that right? Wrong! Turns out that hiring a maid is a much cheaper proposition as compared to eating out on a daily basis. However, I’d share my experience here. While we had a maid for all three meals when I was lived with my friends in a rented apartment, nobody bothered to bring vegetables for cooking. So, we ended up paying the salary and eating out both. Beat that!
Why is Eating Out Bad (Apart from Cost)?
1. Nutrition Value:
The very reason that you don’t know what is going into your food, it is very difficult to realize what constitutes your meal. An industry that thrives on your taste buds is likely to go to that extra mile to ensure that you keep coming back. In that run, they may overlook the nutritional value of the food being served. Cure Fit, a famous cloud kitchen, serves “healthy” biryani. I wonder how is that possible. I tasted it once and it tasted just like our regular biryani which raises even more doubts.
2. Portion Size:
There’s no suitable portion size while you are eating out. It’s either too much to finish (which we finish any way btw) OR, it’s very less, all in the name of mindful eating. So, you have a very little control over this aspect. While Swiggy has an option of complaining for the portion size, I don’t really know what further action is taken on it.
Well, if you don’t like Rajma Chawal, please consult a therapist immediately.
Going Out: A decent restaurant will charge you about Rs. 150 for a plate of Rajma Rice. There are some outliers here and the price may vary from Rs. 120 to Rs. 250 but I am considering the average cost of a restaurant.
Ordering: The same range applies here too. I can see restaurants delivering from Swiggy charging up to Rs. 250 as well for a bowl. However, assuming that this is going to be a daily meal for someone who won’t cook at home, let’s go with the lowest price of Rs. 90.
Cooking: A packet of Rajma costs about Rs. 99 for 500g. You would use about 50g of Rajma for a meal that serves one. So, you’d use Rs. 9 worth of Rajma. Onions: You’d use about one fair sized unit of it. That costs you around Rs. 5 (assuming price per KG @ 60 and per piece weight @ 10g) Masala, Gas, Electricity? Let’s just double it. We reach out to a total price of Rs. 28.
Rice would be 90g per single serving. A good quality basmati would cost you about Rs. 200 per kg. With that, you can have a plate of rice ready under Rs. 20. So, Rs. 50 for your Rajma Chawal. Pretty decent right?
So in toto, you are spending a 2x when it comes to ordering and about 3x while you are eating out. In short, restaurants are covering overheads like rent, salaries from your food. So you take a call.
But I’ll Still Eat Outside:
Okay, I get it. You are either super rich or super lazy. You are still planning to maintain the status quo. So here are some tips to save money while you are at it.
You are not you when you are hungry. But, I suggest that you maintain that calm and compare the last mile prices when it comes to ordering from online platforms. Comparison should be made with all coupon codes in place, including delivery. Also, if some restaurants offer a native app like Box8, Behrouz etc, the prices are much lower there. This is obvious as that they don’t have to pay intermediary commissions to Swiggy and Zomato.
2. Packing Leftovers:
Do not feel ashamed while you ask the waiter to pack the leftover food. You have paid for it and you deserve to have every last bite for it. Just ask him to top that gravy for the heck of it. Okay, may be we went a little overboard there.
3. Service Tax:
Service tax has been made optional by the Government since April 2017. So if your bill has an included tax of 10% under this head, you can ask the restaurant to remove it and issue a new bill. They say it is subjective on the basis of the fact weather or not you liked the service. But, I always ask for this refund.
Food is love. And catering to some indulgence every now and then is also okay. However, one should not make it a habit. If you are craving some really good food, try following one of those step by step recipes from YouTube. Handmade food, prepared after hours of effort, hits differently on your taste buds for sure.
Which side are you on?
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Until next time..